The NSW Government says all students will be expected to attend school full time from next week "under NSW law", but has warned that parents will need to be particularly careful during pick-up and drop-off times.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian confirmed that NSW public schools will return to the classroom full-time next week, telling reporters that she was looking forward to seeing all students back by May 25.
She thanked teachers and parents for their patience and cooperation during the shut down.
"I'm very pleased to announced that from next Monday school will be going back to face-to-face teaching," she said.
"We used this time to prepare ourselves for a COVID safe environment, from now on we don't ever want to see a situation where all schools are closed.
"But it will be common for schools to be shut down temporarily... if there's a community breakout of cases."
"I'm looking forward to bringing normality back to families, and make sure we can live with COVID safe schools."
Ms Berejiklian also announced that two people who had recently travelled from overseas were the only people to test positive to COVD-19 in the past 24 hours. However, she noted the number of tests had been lower than normal and urged more people to come forward.
Their remains 101 people with COVID-19 being treated by NSW Health across the state.
Face-to-face learning restarted across NSW last week, with year 12 students at state and independent schools attending three to four days a week.
Other students were allowed to go to school at least one day a week, however many parents had been sending their children every day as they returned to work.
Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said she was pleased with the return to school approach the government has taken so far.
"We've had excellent attendance over the past two weeks," she said, noting parents would need to listen to principals about the details of their schools reopening.
For instance, there will be no assemblies, no excursions, possible staggered drop off and pick up times and no non-essential visitors. Principals of individual schools will direct these decisions, she said.
She also said teachers would be assessing how students had progressed during their time away from school in the coming weeks.
"I know many people [within schools] I've spoken to are excited to have students back," Ms Mitchell said.
Ms Mitchell said parents were expected to send their children to school, as required by NSW law.
"We expect students to attend, it is a normal school week and rolls will be marked as normal," she said.
"My message to parents is that the health advice is that schools are safe... children need to be attending schools and that's part of the law in NSW that they are there."
"The message is still clear, if you are unwell, you should stay at home and that remains the case within a school setting."
She said consideration would be given to people with medical exceptions.
NSW Chief Health Dr Kerry Chant warned parents to be particularly careful about social distancing during pick-up and drop-off times.
She said decisions about food hygiene environments, like school canteens, would be up to individual schools.
Premier Berejiklian said the government "had been talking about this for more than month," and had "given our school communities ample time to get adjusted...I don't think today's announcement is any surprise to anybody."
But many teachers - and the NSW Teachers Federation - have expressed disappointment at the announcement via the media.
One Illawarra teacher said it was "contemptible" for the government and Department of Education to tell its workforce of the changes via the nightly news.
"They have allowed no time for teachers or kids to get used to online learning or coming back to face-to-face integrated with online learning," she said.
"All the work teachers have done in record time has been completely ignored and treated as mere time filling."
Ms Mitchell said there was communication sent to school principals last night about the return to normal teaching.
"We've been speaking to our key stakeholders, principals organisations and the Teacher's Federation," she said.
"The feedback we've had is that the next best step was to have all students back into the classroom full time. Teachers are well-equipped and ready to have students back in the classroom."
Many Catholic and independent schools would return next week, while others would go back from the start of June.
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